Understanding thinking styles – another step

The CAPOD staff development programme includes an ‘Understanding Thinking Styles’ workshop, which provides an opportunity for participants to undertake the JTI (Jung Type Indicator) questionnaire, to explore their own ‘thinking style’ and to gain an insight into the thinking styles of others.

During team development events and one-to-one sessions CAPOD has also offered the MBTI (Myers- Briggs Type Indicator) questionnaire which is based on the same personality typology.

However, the JTI/MBTI ‘type’ which is reported by the questionnaire and explored during the associated development activities, is really just a starting point in the process of developing self-awareness. The questionnaires identify psychological preferences, and categorises each participant into one of 16 possible types.

While this is an excellent place to begin the exploration of personality and thinking styles, it is also obvious that there are more than 16 types of personality.

In order to help explain the many permutations of personality within each of the 16 defined types and to understand the possible inconsistencies that exist within types, CAPOD is now able to use the more detailed MBTI Step II questionnaire.

This looks at a range of ‘facets’ within each psychological preference (or preferred ‘function’) that makes up the overall defined personality type. The questionnaire identifies where each facet is ‘in preference’ (conforms with preferred function), is ‘out of preference’ (is the opposite of preferred function) or is mid-range (equally balanced between the individual’s preferred function and its’ opposite).

This additional granularity in the definition of type often helps participants to resolve lack of clarity from their MBTI/JTI questionnaire and explains inconsistencies between their own sense of their psychological preferences and the descriptions of type resulting from the initial MBTI/JTI questionnaire. In this blog we provide three case studies in the words of the participants themselves.

Case 1

One recent participant in the MBTI Step II process offers this account of the experience and the value obtained from it:

“Having done MBTI in previous workplaces I was very pleased to see that CAPOD had this capacity and expertise to offer in-house here at St Andrews. In August 2013 CAPOD facilitated a day with my team, which includes a range of staff from academic experts to marketing and support positions. The whole team thought that the MBTI feedback was really useful on both a personal and team level – helping us to understand how we function, what communication styles and processes work for us and how to move towards working more smoothly with our colleagues. We even had the option of getting the report in German for our international colleagues – really important when interpretation of words can be a key factor. I was given the option of participating in a pilot of the next stage – MBTI Step II – an offer I accepted.

The process was similar to Step I– fill in a straightforward online questionnaire. Wait for CAPOD to let you know the report is ready and then a 1:1 session with specific feedback on the results. I was hoping that it would give me a greater insight into the nuances of how I function and certainly the scientist in me wasn’t disappointed to delve into some of the detail to show that there are more than 16 types out there………

Jos (the qualified MBTI practitioner from CAPOD) explained the process and the report structure before moving onto the content. He gave me examples to help my understanding and was happy to travel along all the tangents that the report findings threw up. Although I fit relatively clearly into one of the standard personality types there were a couple of surprises which were really useful to explore. Two examples are:
• my innate need to have things planned (reflected in the ‘J’ – or Judging preference) but the situations where I thrive under pressure seemed to be an anomaly that was really useful to explore and one that I am hoping to be more aware of
• how someone who is generally looking at the big picture (the ‘N’ – or Intuiting preference) can communicate more effectively with colleagues who focus on the detail.
Both are situations pertinent directly to me but also really important to know for my interactions within the company. It was a revelation in many ways and Jos and I are now busy planning how the rest of the team could benefit from this greater personal insight – after all, the more you know yourself the more you can find better ways of working.”

Case 2

Another participant commented on the way in which MBTI Step II helped to explain ambiguity in the JTI profile and also on the way in which this greater understanding could be applied to different aspects of working life:

“I originally decided to attend the course ‘Understanding thinking styles’ because the course description highlighted that “Our ‘thinking style’ can be different from those around us, leading to potential communication and team-working issues if we cannot adapt to the styles and needs of others.” This is important in all roles but particularly in the project work I am generally involved with where my ‘team’ can change regularly.

After completing a Jung Type Indicator (JTI) questionnaire I attended the workshop, where the presenter gave an overview of the of Jung’s psychological types. We were also given our JTI reports which indicated our JTI type or types, based on our preferences for the way we interact with the world. The presenter indicated that it was possible to look at preferences in more detail using the MBTI Step II and, as in my case the there was some ambiguity in the type, I decided to follow it up.

The MTBI Step II questionnaire was more detailed than the JTI and a one-to-one feedback session was organised to discuss the results.

At this session the trainer explained how JTI and MBTI are related and went through the Step II report looking in detail at the ‘facets’ of personality. These results provided a plausible explanation for the areas in the JTI report where I felt that the description didn’t fit with my own experience.

The report also detailed areas for enhancement in Communicating, Making decisions, Managing change and Managing conflict, all areas vital in my day to day work.

I’m going to study my report in more detail and try and take forward some of the suggested enhancements. I hope also that I’ll be more aware of different personality types and try and adapt when working with colleagues.”

Case 3

A third recent participant in the Step II process found that the JTI report left her unclear about her ‘best fit’ type – the type which she felt best described her own preferences, and hoped that step II would provide greater clarity and explain the inconsistencies in the JTI report. In her own words, her reasons for taking part in Step II were:

“…..so that I could take a relatively short period of time to sit and assess my psychological preferences and look at these as analytically as possible to gain greater awareness of my natural thought processes and reactions to situations. I wanted to do this to improve myself and gain perspective on how others see me. I felt by gaining awareness it would help me to achieve even better working relations.

I found this to be an enriching experience. I attained a greater awareness of the preferences that I automatically have in everyday situations, the benefits of this and also the drawbacks. The awareness of different preferences in individuals can be illuminating, thus giving insight in to why you can work so well with some but with others it can be difficult to comprehend their thinking style.

This awareness can be developed so that you can approach situations in a way that is empowering for you and an improved approach for others.

I found this to be an empowering, constructive process.”

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